“A funny thing happened on the way to the studio today.” Remember how Johnny Carson would often start off his monologue this way? For me, it’s always been interesting to think about how the littlest things that happen during our day can be like a little pebble in your shoe – sooner or later a small statement or comment or ocurrence can take on such mythic proportions in your mind that you just CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE.
Such a thing just happened to me.
There are two types of people on the internet today: 1) Those who have tried to use it as a networking tool and have most of their lives (for better or worse) chronicled in detail; and 2) Those who are more private and (for better or worse) have little or nothing written about them. I am, without question, the former.
Thus I was a little taken aback by a visitor to my MySpace blog yesterday. I am listed on my profile as being “Caucasian”; a term I have used my whole life, since my father is from Iran (a country in the Caucasus itself) and my mother is Irish (a European country whose inhabitants have appropriated the term for themselves). My birth certificate and passport both list me as “Caucasian”.
This particular reader, who is of Welsh descent, accused me of misrepresenting myself as Caucasian when in reality I was Middle Eastern. The implication being that my descent would, of course, dictate so much of my life (i.e. political views, social status, etc.) that I was irresponsible for ‘withholding’ such vital information from my readers.
Two thoughts occurred to me after thinking about that comment:
1)This particular reader is the second type of person mentioned above – a private person on the internet who has taken great pains to remain anonymous; as is their perogative. I found it completely ironic that someone who valued their privacy so much would insist that everyone else be clearly labeled so that they could categorize them according to their OWN value system.
2) There is such a misunderstanding about race in our society today. This reader was from the South, and as such was responding to deeply-rooted social programming that told them that anyone who was not “Caucasian” (according to THEIR definition of the word) was just simply living on a lower plane and should identify themselves as such.
These points are troubling for many reasons. As a culture aren’t we supposed to give people the benefit of the doubt before judging someone on the labels they choose to identify themselves?
Of course, being a true Caucasian myself (see link above for the history of the term), this particular reader’s comments don’t impact me personally – I can brush off the feedback as just ill-informed; however as an AMERICAN, the sentiment expressed deeply disturbes me. Like Imus’s comments, which we’re all sick of analyzing at this point, they serve to remind us to approach each human we encounter along the way with love in our heart and as a unique member of Creation. Whatever status, job title, skin color, political view, relationship status, address, sexual orientation, or creed – remember that we are all, on some level, part of the same family.
As the Jamaicans say, RESPECT!